How to Make Minimalist Running/Climbing Shoes at Home

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I like turning boring things into awesome things! Usually on video.

Intro: How to Make Minimalist Running/Climbing Shoes at Home

I took up running these past few years as an extra hobby to allow me some thinking time away from the computer and all my camera gear. I looked into purchasing some of these minimalist shoes both for running as well as for a water shoe for fishing but found that my local stores didn't carry any in stock, and buying shoes online can be risky for fitting purposes. Why not make some myself then?

I didn't believe that spray rubber would work very well at first and assumed that I would have to use the liquid paint-on variety that comes in a tin to achieve a good coating on the fabric, but after testing the spray rubber for myself I didn't even bother with any other method. It works excellent. The rubber is more durable than expected, and after about a quarter mile on very sharp gravel I noticed no wear at all.

One issue that I do have with the shoes is that some of the rubber solvent absorbed into the fabric outside the spray area, carrying trace amounts of rubber with it. This was due to my impatience in adding too much rubber in the first coat which wet the fabric too much and caused unsightly stains that you can see on top of the toes in the video, and also caused a little bit of extra stiffness in those areas. This should be an avoidable issue by simply going a little more slowly until there is a good rubber surface established over the absorbent fabric. There shouldn't be much to worry about after the first coat or two is added.

One other very minor improvement I would make in my next pair of shoes is to make the heel more narrow while spraying on the rubber. While I shaped the socks fairly accurately to the natural shape of my feet, I would have preferred the heel to be a little narrower so that it was a snugger fit. That's mostly a matter of preference and doesn't contribute one way or the other toward function.

Items used for this project:

  • Divided Toe Socks
  • Spray Rubber
  • Plastic Grocery Bags
  • Coat Rack (Or anything else that can hold the socks upright - two sticks would do fine)
  • Fan (For both ventilation as well as increasing solvent drying time)

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66 Discussions

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Chanit0

2 years ago

Extraordinary!

I can not wait to create my own running shoes. Thanks so much for sharing. =)

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Hexie

2 years ago

I just LOVE this. I had a pair of Vibrams that I wore out. They cost so much and this is exactly what I have been looking for. Brilliant.

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jaelabs1

3 years ago

anyone try these as climbing shoes?

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ldirks

3 years ago on Introduction

For an even better fit you could take a plaster cast of your feet and replace the plastic bags with that. That way you could have several pairs made specifically for you.

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paleogirl

4 years ago on Introduction

There's an added benefit for those who MUST wear orthotics as molded and prescribed by a podiatrist. I had the opportunity to try a pair of commercial (and admittedly very expensive ... I agree) shoes like this and we decided to experiment with using my orthotics in them. While my particular orthotics wouldn't allow me to get my pinky toe set in the shoe properly (because my orthotics are hella-weird), we were able to determine that placing orthotics in the shoes WAS possible.

So, for those of you who would love to have these shoes AND have to wear orthotics, don't give up hope!!! It's completely possible and making your own (though because of the nature of mine won't probably work), trying this instructable might be WELL worth your effort! How awesome is it that you could wear your orthotics "glued" to your feet while still retaining that feeling of being barefoot! Wish I could do that, but alas, I personally can't.

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Fatimamusa

4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks sooo much. Barefoot shoes cost so much, and this seems really nice. I'm gonna try it, but I'll probably just use some wide socks so that there is room enough for my toes to fit naturally, since I hate how 5 fingers feel when they are stiff. Do you think I could use that doughy kind of scilicone? It's used sometimes for making soles on crocheted shose.

1 reply
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bcelik1

4 years ago on Introduction

Wow, great idea! Would liquid latex work? Please help! How would I help to harden it

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HollyHarken

4 years ago on Introduction

Would the dipping plastic work? I have that. I like the idea of putting a plastic bag on my foot first and then the sock as I feel it would eliminate all of the stuffing and shaping. Then I could step into a pan of dipping plastic to make the "shoes". I have a pair of Vibram's that I like very much. I used to wear very expensive shoe orthodics. Going barefoot has helped me a great deal. I highly recommend it. I am now going barefoot inside the house all year. It took a while to toughen up my legs, ankles & feet, but it was worth it in the end. Though lately, as I've gained some unwanted weight from medication issues, it has caused an old skiing knee injury to spring back up:(

2 replies

I was going to try the dipping type plasti-dip the way you describe because I didn't believe the spray rubber would work very well at bonding to the fabric. I never did try it though because the spray rubber ended up exceeding my expectations, making any other method redundant for me to attempt. It might work for you.

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gralanHollyHarken

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Wow, that's a great idea. I think it beats buying $250 Z-coils. HollyHarkin, I'm going to give that a try. BTW, I like NightHawkinLight's idea too.

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keyguy13

4 years ago on Introduction

Just to clarify: There are no real scientific studies that show these shoes hurt your feet. The lawsuit involving Vibram settling is because they claimed the shoes could help your feet versus regular shoes and they didn't have any scientific proof for the claims. Running barefoot style requires months and sometimes years of training in changing how your foot strikes the ground. However, if you are a toddler who has never worn regular shoes, you don't need to worry about it. If you think about it, it makes no sense to say that running barefoot can destroy your foot. We were all born to run naturally barefoot. Running with supported and cushioned shoes is what is unnatural and we all learn an unnatural way to run with them. I personally had no end to knee problems training for my first half marathon in my Nike Vomeros. I must have put 300+ miles on them. I thought I was not going to be able to run anymore after the first half marathon. I read about barefoot style and bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. It took me a year and two half marathons to get used to them but now I won't run any other way. Decide for yourself though, as it takes a lot of patience and training to change into a fore/mid strike stride. Hope this helps those on the fence.

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keyguy13

4 years ago on Introduction

Just to clarify: There are no real scientific studies that show these shoes hurt your feet. The lawsuit involving Vibram settling is because they claimed the shoes could help your feet versus regular shoes and they didn't have any scientific proof for the claims. Running barefoot style requires months and sometimes years of training in changing how your foot strikes the ground. However, if you are a toddler who has never worn regular shoes, you don't need to worry about it. If you think about it, it makes no sense to say that running barefoot can destroy your foot. We were all born to run naturally barefoot. Running with supported and cushioned shoes is what is unnatural and we all learn an unnatural way to run with them. I personally had no end to knee problems training for my first half marathon in my Nike Vomeros. I must have put 300+ miles on them. I thought I was not going to be able to run anymore after the first half marathon. I read about barefoot style and bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. It took me a year and two half marathons to get used to them but now I won't run any other way. Decide for yourself though, as it takes a lot of patience and training to change into a fore/mid strike stride. Hope this helps those on the fence.

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KyleTheCreator

4 years ago

Ben, ingenious use of household items! Would this same technique work for making gardening gloves? I was thinking that you could use latex gloves to protect your hands from the rubber spray while conforming the glove for a better fit.

Thanks for sharing,
-KTC

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t_parkour

4 years ago

I'm a freerunner and I love training barefoot or in minimalist shoes, so I might have to try this sometime! Thanks!

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tonygz88

4 years ago on Introduction

Great instructable, very creative. But about the minimalist type shoes, here is one article someone asked for about how they are bad for you.

http://www.vox.com/2014/5/9/5695290/science-americ...

I myself purchased some several years ago to try it out. I followed the guide books for switching to those types of shoes by implementing it into my running routine. I am in the Army and run 30 miles a week on my own time outside of PT, so in fairly good shape and suffered lower extremity/lower back damage from these types of shoes.

So personally I don't recommend them. Test subjects show bone marrow inflammation and foot damage. I got this information from several articles. Anyone that purchased them official from a company is due a partial refund apparently. So take care of your feet, you only get to destroy them once. I am disabled for the rest of my life from exercise related injuries, even after surgeries, and its not fun being a athlete that is in pain 24/7.

1 reply

Thank you for the personal account and info. Minimalist running certainly is a controversial topic. It seems the bottom line is that not everyone's body is made to conform to the same things and it really takes a professional to make observations regarding what will be healthy for each individual.